GEORGIA Rowe and Neve Lafferty leaped to their deaths together from the Erskine Bridge in October 2009 after absconding from a nearby care home.
Caring for troubled young teenagers is one of society's toughest jobs and it would be wrong to rush to judgment when things go wrong. Suicides are notoriously difficult to predict, even in young adults with a history of mental illness and self-harm and it is easy to be wise after the event. Despite their troubles, both girls had returned to the Good Shepherd Care home in Bishopton in good spirits after a weekend away. Yet within two hours they were dead, apparently after making a suicide pact.
Given that three in five children and adolescents in care have emotional and mental health problems, it should be standard policy to assess the risk of self harm and suicide, as yesterday's report recommends. The same applies to providing staff with guidelines on how to spot and mitigate suicidal tendencies in their young charges. As is so often the case in such cases, better communication between the different agencies involved in their care might have prevented this tragedy. There had been no shortage of warning signs.
Georgia had been bullied by another girl and yet instead of separating them, nothing was done.
It is questionable whether Neve should have been placed in an open unit at all, given her history of absconding, and, given that both girls were disturbed, they should never have been accommodated in a ground floor self-contained flat with an unalarmed fire door. Poor staffing at night also helps explain why it took 70 minutes to discover their absence and raise the alarm, by which time they were dead.
For Georgia and Neve it is too late to say "if only". The home in Bishopton has since closed. The only good that can come out of this devastating double tragedy is if the lessons are learned and applied without delay.
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